Every day I become more in awe of how much inspiration, strength and spirit we can draw from kids. And for that reason I am dedicating this one to ‘The Little Champions’.
As they grow they’re so focused on trying to fit into our boots, but I believe it’s us big kids, who should strive to fit into theirs. If we measure boot size in spirit and strength - not length, these guys have oodles of it. It should be bottled in those single digit years...
Examples of these little champions and the strength, spirit and inspiration they project are absolutely everywhere, but there's a couple I wanted to share.
At a recent run/triathlon festival in Beachport SA, I gave my little nieces & nephew a few words of advice as they lined up for the 5km run (after doing the kids run – they decided to back it up with the adults event!). I encouraged them to pace themselves - but sure enough the gun went off and there was no element of ease in the sprint they took off with!
Will – had recently gone out so hard in a sports day run he nearly fainted! I could see him sprinting to take over one last adult before coming through the finishing line. He was holding his stomach and a little buckled over. I asked him afterwards if was struggling through a stitch...
“Yeah – but you CAN run through a stitch Albu!”
Sophie – bounded along with her long legs, and did really well. Afterwards she was really rubbing her knees, looking like she was in pain. After congratulating her I asked if she was ok. Turns out her knees were really sore…
“It’s OK Albu, they don’t hurt when I run, just afterwards.”
Charlize – 5km was more of a challenge for her, she’s more of a sprinter. It was an out and back course, a pretty lonely one at that. Off she set with the group, and came in a little after her cousins. How’d you go Charlize, was it a bit lonely out there, what did you do?
“Yeah, it was, but I walked for a bit, then I thought to myself, I’ll just try to catch up to the cousins - I CAN do this! So I started running again.”
Chloe – did the triathlon, with a bit of an unsettled start trying to sort her race bib out, off she went in the swim, ride, then the run. She battles with a bit of asthma when she runs, but saw to it that she took off on the run leg with a sprint, and brought it home with a sprint as well!
Sport isn't everything I get that, but I took something from each of them that day – at such a young age, these guys are showing all the signs of self drive and determination that most of us go through our whole lives trying to ‘learn’ how. When, if we reflect back... it's something we've had all along.
As I write this – I’m thinking of another little champion, Max from Penola. He just turned 9, and I would suggest he is the strongest kid in the world right now.
A week ago today he was involved in a horrific accident, suffering burns to 90% of his body. A percentage that is just unfathomable.
He has somehow survived this last week, still in a very critical but stable condition, and now battling the challenges of 9 hour operations, but could not be in better hands in ICU of The Royal Adelaide Women and Children's Hospital. This last week he’s probably endured more pain and had to call upon more strength than most of us will perhaps ever be asked of.
He has a mountain of support behind him in family, friends and an entire community that’s growing by the day as more people hear about this little guy Max. Which is all an most enormous help, especially for his dear family. But this little champion - is himself showing such strength and spirit to endure each day. It’s a long, uphill road ahead – and hopefully one he gets to travel. I don't even know him well, many close to me do (including the little character above, Charlize who's in his class), but he is inspiring me more and more each day, as I read updates posted to the community from Uncle Matt. My hat goes off to him, and my heart goes out to him.
So today – let’s take our hats off to these little champions, may they continue to:
Show us what real strength is
And let their spirits sore!!
We can all encourage them, learn so very much from them, and strive to fit into the boots we once grew out of.
(Originally published - 29th April, 2016)